Art History and Visual Studies professor Victoria Wyatt was once again invited to offer an essay as part of the prestigious Edge.org annual question: “What do you consider the most interesting recent [scientific] news? What makes it important?”
Wyatt’s response: “The Convergence Of Images And Technology.”
For those not familiar with the site, Edge.org is an online salon whose mission statement pretty much says it all: “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.” Now, of course, the “room” is a website where the thoughts and opinions of prominent thinkers are aggregated.
Wyatt’s 2016 essay argues for the importance of visual studies in promoting a paradigm shift that we need to address global problems. “The news is in pictures, literally and figuratively,” she writes. “Visual images have exploded through our world, challenging the primacy of written text. A photograph bridges the diversity of cultures and languages . . . Never before have visual images so dynamically pervaded our daily lives. Never before have they been so influentially generated by amateurs as well as editors and advertisers . . . . Social media coalesces around visual imagery. Written text works brilliantly in so many ways, but it has never worked in quite this way.” You can read the full essay here.
This is the second time Wyatt has had an essay on Edge.org; the first was in response to the 2014 question, “What scientific idea is ready for retirement?” Her essay focused on the cliche of “The Rocket Scientist”—as in, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know . . .”
It’s notable that Wyatt has once again been included among the nearly 200 correspondents, as most of the contributors are either scientists or social scientists. The Edge.org has been described by The Guardian as “the world’s smartest website” and “a salon for the world’s finest minds.”